Institutionalizing Democracy in Africa: A Comment on the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance

29 Pages Posted: 8 Jun 2012 Last revised: 18 Mar 2013

See all articles by Patrick J. Glen

Patrick J. Glen

Government of the United States of America - Department of Justice

Date Written: 2012

Abstract

This article provides an exegesis of the recently entered-into-force African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance. Democracy has a decidedly mixed history in Africa and, despite a concerted effort by the African Union (AU), it has made only halting inroads in those states that are nondemocratic or struggling to consolidate democracy. That may change as more states ratify and implement the Charter, a comprehensive regional attempt to promote, protect, and consolidate democracy that entered into force in February 2012. This Charter, the culmination of two decades of African thinking on how democracy should develop on the continent, represents the AU’s attempt to institutionalize principles of good governance and democratic ideals. Although hurdles remain on Africa’s road to democratic development, including poverty, illiteracy, and corruption, the Charter provides a means to address these stubborn problems. Whether it will succeed will depend on state implementation of the obligations undertaken by ratification of the Charter, as well as the African Union’s own commitment to ensuring observation of the Charter’s key provisions. If the AU and its member states do fully implement and practically observe the Charter’s obligations, then the prospects for democratic governance in Africa have a bright future.

Keywords: African Charter on democracy elections and governance, African Union, democracy, democratization, economic development, good governance, human rights

JEL Classification: F00, K33, K30, K39

Suggested Citation

Glen, Patrick James, Institutionalizing Democracy in Africa: A Comment on the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (2012). African Journal of Legal Studies, Vol. 5, pp. 119-146, 2012; Georgetown Public Law Research Paper No. 12-068; Georgetown Law and Economics Research Paper No. 12-020. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2079619

Patrick James Glen (Contact Author)

Government of the United States of America - Department of Justice ( email )

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
United States
202-305-7232 (Phone)

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